2022's Conversations That We Loved Having

As 2022 comes to a close, our editors reflect on the stand-out figures of the UAE's education sector we have interviewed over the course of the year.
2022's Conversations That We Loved Having
By Susan Roberts
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WhichSchoolAdvisor.com aims to bring you insights into the world of education through the conversations we have with the UAE's schools. Here are some of our favourite interviews with key figures in the UAE education sector and beyond this year.

Simply click on the links to jump through to the full interviews...

GEMS' New Education Chief: "Yes, There Will be Change"

GEMS Education's Dr Saima Rana, now its Chief Education Officer as well as its chief change maker.

Two weeks after the announcement of her new appointment as Chief Education Officer at GEMS Education, Dr Saima Rana spoke exclusively to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com about her vision for the education groups, and provided insights into planned changes under her leadership. 

Dr Rana said: 

"I have never stepped into a role where it's business as usual. Yes, there will be change, and it will be transformational."

Inspiring Women in Education, Katrina Mankani

Katrina Mankani is now the Co-MD of Fortes Education. As always 'it's the journey' to her current position that is the most interesting part of her tale.

Katrina Mankani, the inspiring Co-Managing Director of Fortes Education and Managing Director of Jumeirah International Nurseries shared her interesting journey into the world of education, and her outlook on the importance of finding purpose. 

Mrs Mankhani said:

"Truthfully, I came into education by sheer luck. I did not have a clear career path the way some people do. What I always knew was that I wanted to do something that would have an impact on people, where I could influence people’s lives."

 Interview: “I'm Exactly Where I Want to Be”

Mr Andrew Wilson, founding principal of Arcadia Global, a school set to make waves in 2023.

Mr Andrew Wilson, founding Principal of Arcadia Global School (set to open in August 2022), shared his unusual journey into education leadership, in which he took the longer route to finding his place in the world. He explained how his own imperfect education, and the ups and downs of his path, have made him the educator he is today. 

Mr Wilson explained:

"Later as a teacher, I could see kids who were like me, kids that needed to be inspired and engaged. I would be jumping around on the desks, creating energy in the classroom, taking them outside and reenacting battles in history lessons, charging down hills with them. I didn't want them to feel what I felt when I was at school.”

Interview: From Nursery Teacher to Author

Ebtisam Al Beiti has done something many of have dreamed of doing... This is her story.

Nursery teacher turned children's author, Ebtisam Al Beiti, shared her pandemic-influenced journey to success, and the experiences she has had along the way. 

Ebtisam explained:

“The biggest mistake that I made was simply waiting too long to do this. There is no perfect time to fulfil an ambition, to create something, there is only now."

Future School Leaders, Allan Keddie

P.E. teachers often make great school leaders. Mr Allan Keddie from Brighton College is a walking, talking embodiment of why that's so...

Mr Allan Keddie, P.E. Teacher (now Director of Sport) at Brighton College Al Ain, stood out to our reviewer during a visit to the school, for the passion and dedication he expressed to ensuring every one of the school's pupils wanted to participate in P.E. 

He told us: 

"It's all about the importance of a teacher caring, getting to know each student, and listening to them. We’ve asked what they would like us to include [in classes], and we’ve acted on it. These days, by ensuring our P.E. classes can be engaging for every student (not just the athletically gifted), that our classes are enjoyable and varied, we have almost every single student participating in P.E."

Inspiring Women in Education, Sheeba Jojo

Sheeba Jojo, VP of GEMS OOEHS has seen it all. Well, almost...

Ms Sheeba Jojo, Vice Principal at GEMS Our Own English High School, was once a happy student at the very same school. Ms Jojo shared memories of her time there, and of a career that has taken her full circle.

She told us:

"I have been fortunate enough to be in the school at the time when Madam Varkey herself used to have her office there. When I think of that now, I get goosebumps and when she passed away recently, it was a very emotional moment.  It took me down memory lane, what a wonderful woman, what a wonderful story that is now this huge educational phenomenon. This school was Madam Varkey’s baby, she really gave it her everything."

RGS: What Guildford Has Learned from Dubai

Undoubtedly one of the UAE's most successful launches in recent history, we met the leaders of the Dubai and the UK schools to find out how the two schools have benefited from each other.

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com reconnected with Dr Jon Cox, Head Master at RGS Guildford UK, and Mrs Clare Turnbull, Principal at RGS Guildford Dubai, a year after the school first opened its doors to students. Dr Cox shared that it is not only the newer Dubai school learning from the historic UK school; RGS Guildford UK is also taking on the successful initiatives of Dubai also. 

He explained:

"It's never been a one-way street; it's not RGS coming to Dubai, directing on how we do it in Guildford, that's not the right way to start. It's a two-way learning process. "

Durham Dubai: A School Defined by Tradition

Mark Atkins, principal of newly opened Durham School, spoke to WSA before the school's launch, explaining why both tradition and a back to the fundamentals approach is important.

Back in May, prior to the opening of Durham School Dubai, Whichschooladvisor.com spoke to Principal Mark Atkins, to gain an insight into what parents should expect from the new British school opening in Dubai Investment Park. 

Mr Atkins told us:

"Durham is a school that believes in teaching the basics well and providing a strong foundation upon which we can build."

Inspiring Women in Education, Louise Lynton

Louise Lynton, Head of Inclusion at Brighton College Dubai, on how her unusual journey to her current role has shaped her teaching practices and approach. 

Ms Louise Lynton, Head of Inclusion at Brighton College Dubai, shared her far-from-regular career path, and the educational experiences that have shaped her outlook and vision of inclusive education.

She told us:

"[When working with the youth justice board] It became more and more apparent that long before crime became the issue for these pupils, before things started to really go wrong for them, they had multiple needs within education."

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